Watching yesterday's Yankees/Indians game, I couldn't help notice how every bit of doubt about the health of Indians' starter C.C. Sabathia disappeared. Is there anyone out there who isn't positively stating that he or she knew he wasn't hurt?
For the Yankees, Chien-Ming Wang won his 5th game in atypical fashion. He had more Ks (9) and flyouts (6) than groundouts (5). He now has 27 Ks in 35 innings of work. I'm on record stating he is going to try to K more hitters because the Yankees' brass threw his lack of Ks in his face during his arbitration hearing.
The one run in this game scored on a Melky Cabrera HR, his 5th of the season. Given the Melkman only delivered 8 HRs all last season (545 ABs), does this represent just the beginning of a breakout power year for the twenty-three-year-old CF?
Finally, I have to comment on the play-by-play that occurred. In the top of the 6th inning, Derek Jeter lead-off with a double. Up next was the Yankees' #3 hitter, Bobby Abreu. YESman Michael Kay strategized that Abreu needed to hit the ball to the right side to get Jeter in even better scoring position. Before I could calm myself long enough to clearly ask why a team would want its three-hole hitter to move the runner over with an out rather than drive the ball and score the runner from second, Abreu grounded an 0-1 curveball to second base. Kay applauded the AB. Sabathia then struck out Alex Rodriguez (an out with a RISP from ARod? Not this season!) and Shelly Duncan.
With my question unanswered why anyone would think, and applaud, a three-hole hitter grounding out to the right side to advance a runner with none out, I went to Baseball Prospectus' Run Expectancy Matrix to see if there was any reason to think this should be treated any differently than the way I thought it should be.
The Matrix says teams with a runner on second and no outs is expected to score 1.14045 runs. If the team has a runner on third and one out, the situation Michael Kay wanted and received, the team is expected to score 1.02769 runs. That works out to 9.89% fewer runs! My intuition in this case is backed-up by some statistical fact.
As a reminder, make your entry in The Worst Fantasy Baseball Season So Far by Wednesday for the chance to win an annual Baseball Prospectus subscription. While you would still have access to BP's Run Expectancy Matrix, you couldn't sort it in any way.